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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

PHASES  OF  LYRIC  POETRY                       421

river shadowed black by a primeval forest; a long white eel glides
over her breasts; she dreams of a crimson kiss; she floats on past
the din of cities and factories - through all eternity. Another theme
(probably from Maeterlinck's Serres chaudes} is that of the hospital
(DasFieberspital}. The general impression of Heym's poetry is that
of boyish elaboration of the macabre. But details - glimpses in
gloom - have the phosphorescence of fine poetry.

GEORG TRAKL (1887-1914) was a dispensing chemist in Salzburg
who went mad and poisoned himself after a battle on the eastern
front. He is a poet of country life, but as such glaringly impres-
sionistic; e.g. Herbstseele:

Jdgerruf und Slutgebell;
Hinter Kreu^ und braunem Hugel
Blindet sacht der Wasserspiegel,
Schreit der Habicht hart und helL

Uber Stoppelfeld und Pfad
Banget schon ein schwar^es Schmigen;
Reiner fiimmel in den Zweigen;
Nur der ~Bach rinnt still und stad.

The first general impression on reading TrakPs verse (Gedichte>
1913; Die Dichtungen, 1917; Gesamtausgabe, Vol. i 1949, Vol. 2
1950; Aus goldnem Kelch, 1939) is that it is schon dagewesen\ these
softly wreathed, faintly fading1 rhythms with their sensuous varia-
tion of vowels (e.g. 'wenn verfalien derkalte Monderscheinf] read like
a blending of Klopstock and Holderlin, and the sense may be even
more nebulous. But there is a corpse-like mellowness in this verse
which is strange to the masculine melancholy of Klopstock and
the clean ephebe's vision of Holderlin: Trakl is a decadent ten
years after his time, as Baudelairian - and to the verge of nausea -
as Heym is Rimbaud-like. It is only necessary to read a few poems
to fix the origins and the method. The main influence is that of
Maeterlinck's Serres chaudes \ there is the same incongruous enu-
meration of details (the technique of seventeenth-century German
verse) which fuse to no composite picture but leave an impression
of the motley disorder of the world presenting itself as the reality
it is to the heightened poetic hearing and vision of a madman;
there is no sense in it save to the senseless; and how the magic

1 'verweht und matt*.